Thursday, 18 August 2016

Transformers: Titans Return -- Crashbash

In the 4.5 billionish years this planet has existed, dinosaurs have been pretty much the coolest creatures to ever walk God's green earth. Sure, humans weren't around for their heyday -- but ever since that first Megalosaurus bones were discovered back in 1824, they've had a stranglehold on popular culture, showing up in all sorts of bizarro places -- not least of which was Transformers.

Titans Return is pretty much the reintroduction of the Headmasters concept to the Transformers franchise, last seen in the late 1980s. Basically, the theme introduces the concept of Titan Masters – small Transformers who can combine with larger ones to supplement their power by replacing their heads. While it’s an excellent idea for establishing a play pattern, it’s slightly disturbing in storyline terms – two robots bonded together for the indefinite future, the larger stuck in a useless state when the head decides to pop off and move around on its own. I’m sure that’s not quite how it works, but it’s the version of events that sticks in my mind.    
However, as these transforming heads are intentionally designed to be interchangeable with one another, Hasbro has taken the novel step of selling some heads separately, using it to reintroduce some characters who presumably might not have gotten a release in another form. But though a head that transforms into a teensy robot is pretty cool, it's a little thin for a regular each of these figures also comes packed with some kind of vehicle that can also be transformed into a weapon -- which can then be used either by the miniature pilot or by a larger figure. Pretty cool, huh? 
Considering that Hasbro tends to overprice TFs a little, I expected these heads to sell for $15-20 each, but I found this one at Hobbyco for a much more reasonably priced $11.95. This means they'll probably be $9-10 at Big W/Target/Kmart. The first wave offers some good options, but I was naturally enough drawn to Crashbash -- a purple Decepticon t-rex? Had I died and gone to heaven??? After recovering from this  near-death experience, I seized it tightly and knew that I had to buy it. It would go with my bizarro collection of other Decepticons, which currently numbers at somewhere between "waaaaaay more Transformers than I had as a kid" and "why didn't I buy a Thundercracker when I had the chance, aftermarket prices are redonk now".

Now, Crashbash is a character that was released back in the 1980s, though he was then known as "Squeezeplay" and was a kind of crab-person thing. Pretty cool, but the only real resemblance this modern version has to his 1980s incarnation is in the head mode. The T-rex look is a new one. 

And it's awesome!!! Crab people are cool and all, as South Park taught us years ago -- but T-Rex alt mode conquers virtually all other contenders. It's made by combining the Titan Master and the weapon mode together, Ingeniously, the legs become the lower half of the jaw, while the Titan Master's arms become the T-Rex's arms. You can also cheat a gun mode for bigger figures by fiddling with the legs and tail while using the "cannon" as a gun handle, but I haven't included a pic here.  

The Dragon (weapon) mode, by contrast, is neither here nor there -- it looks kind of like some kind of dino-chicken hybrid, and I don't really plan to make much use of it. It's nice to give the Titan Master something to stand on to. 

And head mode? Well, with the purple colour he might look nice on Galvatron. But I think he's going to stay in T-Rex or Titan Master mode most of the time. Though it is cool that the Titan Master's own head is a miniature facsimile of the larger head.

Now, I do have some minor criticisms. First, the promotional render makes this toy look as though it's kind of lavender in colour, but the real toy is much darker, more of a magenta colour. This isn't a problem -- I prefer magenta -- but the increasing reliance on renders in Hasbro's promotional material is giving a less and less accurate impression of what the final toy is actually going to look like. Going back to hardcopies really would be a better option, even if their paint jobs tended to be a little... questionable.  

Secondly, be warned -- the Titan Masters are a bit fragile, so have a spare or two handy if your kid plays rough. I'm quite gentle, and I've already had a couple of white pressure marks appear on him. 

Overall? If this toy had existed when I was a little kid, I have little doubt that it would have been one of my favourites. There's something indisputably awesome about a gigantic chunky figure like Devastator, but I have a lot of love for figures that are near capsule-toy size too. Ideally, I'd build an army of these guys...but I'll probably limit myself to just to or three. I vote that these separately-sold Titan Masters are a big success!  

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